Anthony Joshua’s U.S. debut will have to wait as the WBA-IBF world heavyweight champion’s next title defence against Kubrat Pulev is expected to be at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Oct. 28.
The unbeaten Briton is being lined up to face Bulgarian Pulev (25-1, 13 KOs) at the Welsh national stadium after the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas was also considered to host the fight on Nov. 11.
Pulev’s promoter Kalle Sauerland says an announcement confirming Joshua’s first fight in Cardiff since 2014 is expected soon after talks with Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn in London on Friday.
“Looks like it will be very likely Cardiff and I would expect something next week,” Sauerland told ESPN.
Joshua, 27, who has won all 19 of his fights inside the distance, has been set to face Pulev (25-1, 13 KOs) since Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko, 41, announced his retirement a month ago rather than face the north London based boxer in a rematch.
Pulev, 36, is the IBF’s No 1 challenger and the Bulgarian has only lost once by knockout to Klitschko in November 2014.
Sauerland is confident Pulev can pull off a shock win on British soil as he is used to boxing outside of his native Bularia, where he has boxed professionally just twice.
“Pulev has had something like 95 per cent of his fights away from home so he will be very comfortable with it,” Sauerland told ESPN.
“I think his chances are very good. He was doing OK against Klitschko until he got knocked out. He had completely the wrong tactics, he was trying to out-box him, but it almost paid off for him.
“Anthony Joshua is a great ambassador for the sport of boxing and everybody knows Anthony Joshua’s strengths, but everybody also knows his weaknesses.
“Against Pulev he is not against an old and finished fighter. Pulev will not get in a situation where he will let Joshua off the hook, he will take him out, that’s very clear.
“I’m very confident for Pulev’s chances.”
Joshua was knocked down in the sixth round against Klitschko, but lowered the Ukranian in the fifth and then twice in the 11th before the fight was stopped.
The England-born boxer pulled in a record-equalling crowd for boxing in the UK of 90,000 against Klitschko at Wembley Stadium, London, in April but the gate is unlikely to come close to that figure at the Principality Stadium, which has a retractable roof.
It may also fall short of the world record attendance for an indoor boxing event is 63,350 for Muhammad Ali’s rematch with Leon Spinks at the New Orleans Superdome in 1978.
The Principality Stadium — formerly known as the Millennium Stadium — has hosted boxing before, with the biggest event being Joe Calzaghe’s victory over Mikkel Kessler in a world super-middleweight title unification fight ten years ago in front of a crowd of 50,000, which set a new European indoor arena record.
Joshua is already in training to face Pulev, who has beaten the champion’s fellow Britons Dereck Chisora, Michael Sprott and Matt Skelton. Pulev earned a unanimous points decision against Kevin Johnson on the same night as Joshua’s thrilling fight with Klitschko.
Joshua had his fourth professional fight in Cardiff –a second round stoppage of Dorian Darch — at the Motorpoint Arena in February 2014.